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CAMP HOVEY, South Korea — Area I needs additional command sponsorships and a speedy transition to Camp Humphreys, a senior member of the House defense appropriations subcommittee who visited here Thursday said.

Rep. Dave Hobson, R-Ohio, also a former chairman of the military construction subcommittee, toured Camp Hovey and visited the Community Activity Center named after him following a briefing at Yongsan Garrison.

Hobson told Stars and Stripes he supported additional command sponsorships in Area I, also known as U.S. Army Garrison-Red Cloud.

In previous years, Congress and U.S. Forces Korea leaders had been reluctant to allow soldiers to move their families so close to North Korea.

However, former USFK commander Gen. B.B. Bell and current commander Gen. Walter Sharp have lobbied for changes.

Sharp said last month he would work with Pentagon officials on the regulatory hurdles and that he believed he had congressional support.

Sharp apparently can count Hobson among his supporters.

"When I was here before (in 2001) they were actually discouraging people to come here and live on the economy," Hobson said. "I think if we can have more accompanied tours here the quality of life will be better."

Hobson plans to leave Congress following the next election, but he said he will pass along his recommendations to committee members.

During his stint as military construction subcommittee chairman, Hobson directed money to camps Casey and Hovey for new buildings. However, he noted that the same Quonset huts he saw during his first visit 20 years ago were still being used.

Upgraded facilities are an important part of the move of nearly all U.S. forces between Seoul and the Demilitarized Zone to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Hobson said.

That move already has been pushed back to 2012, but rumors of further delays have surfaced in the South Korean media.

On Aug. 25, Sharp said a team of engineers was evaluating whether the move would still follow the 2012 timeline and would likely have an answer in about a month. He added that construction appeared to be moving forward.

Hobson was scheduled to visit Camp Humphreys on Friday.

"We worry about delays," Hobson said. "I’m worried if it gets pushed back, it goes so far off the radar screen. This is a very important post for the future of the world. We cannot let events in other parts of the world negatively affect our commitments here."

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